Month: September 2013

Heart

I haven’t slept in days.

Night after night, I lie awake in the various beds that I call my stopping points in my never-ending pilgrimage across New Jersey, and although I wake up before the sun can be seen and I lie down long after I ever wanted to, I can’t get my heart to stop beating so ferociously although my eyes are begging it to just be quiet so that maybe, we can get to work on time tomorrow.

No matter where I was or what I was doing, the most fruitful sleeps that I remember are the ones where I worked alongside the world by day, exploring and smiling, whether it be in the sunshine or beneath a faded blue poncho. I think of running into the various places I called home after breathlessly working to open the locks, my friends and I stumbling through doorways and collapsing on unclaimed beds, so tired we could barely bear to put up our hair or take off our boots. These rests were the ones that only came after a day climbing up mountains, battling the rain, running from misfits, and doggy-paddling the Atlantic and dingy ponds alike.

They didn’t really have much to do with waking up to a blaring alarm, strapping on a pair of heels in the parking lot, or packing a lunch. It was those days, back in the day, where I don’t really remember feeling my own heart beating out of my chest, but instead I felt it blaring in my brain, saying, Wow, isn’t this place magnificent or How did we ever end up here?

Never in my life have I been so tired as I am these days, never in my life have I worked so hard to achieve a dutiful eight hours rest. Ironically, never in my life have I moved so slowly, either, and for the first time, I find myself trying to pull free the heart in it all.

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Take Cooler Travel Photos

If I have to see one more lopsided Facebook photo of you standing in front of a gum-stained, over-toured national monument, I don’t think I’m going to make it. And I highly doubt I’m the only one. So instead, here are some clever little tips in how to take cooler travel photos that make your friends say, You took that?! 

1. Don’t abandon your nouns. Instead of just snapping lots of pictures of the Ponte Vecchio, get some people in those shots. Dangle your legs over the sides. Get all of your friends to sit on the ledge. Just do anything so that there’s some life in those photos that consist of more than a pile of rock, according to the Independent Traveler.

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 2. Get creative with your angles. You know what’s a nice picture? A pretty little front view of the Duomo di Milano. Too bad it’s the same shot that every one of two million tourists who visit each year have on their iPhones too. You know what a really cool photo would be? An up-close-and-personal shot of one of the 3200 statues that dot the Duomo. Don’t settle for a boring on-your-way out photo of a landmark that you’re lucky to see even one time. Try to get creative and think outside the box.

3. Play with the surrounding scenery. It’s important that your shot is filled with life, however that “life” doesn’t have to just be the subject that you’re trying to nab. Instead, think about the less glamourous and understated scenery that surrounds the area. When snapping a photo of the ancient River Street in Atlanta, Georgia, you don’t need to just include the grayed, decrepit buildings. Instead, a zippy, patriotic American flag brightens up the entire shot.

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4. Don’t just snap and upload. You don’t need to take a bunch of random shoots and then thoughtless send them to the Book. Instead, get them on your computer, saturate the colors, crop out the junk, and delete the ones that didn’t make the cut. There is never a need to upload 600 crappy photos, since let’s get real here, the only person who cares to look at all 600 is your mom.

5. Don’t worry about the weather. Often, we think of the best travel photos around are those with the sun shining, the fluffy clouds drifting along. However, this isn’t necessarily true. Take advantage of interesting situations, including the weather. The pastel colors and bright jazzy colors come through nicely on a sunny day in New Orleans, but you know what’s even cooler? A sweet shot of one of the afternoon monsoons on Bourbon. Get artsy, people.

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Facing The Morning Pilgrimage

When I die and go to Hell, I will spend an eternity sitting on route 80 in bumper-to-bumper traffic, making bets to myself on how long it will take me to get to work as I slump behind an 18-wheeler and a beer-bellied plumber.

As rogue travelers, we spend a lot of time on the road, usually going somewhere cool (or cool in theory). However, I don’t think “a lot of time on the road” should translate to 30 miles and an hour and a half to work each way.

Am I the only one that sits in an obscene amount of traffic twice a day, everyday? No, I’m not – because if I did, route 80 would be empty for at least some of that strip of 30 miles. And honestly, that’s the part that really irks me. According to a 2011 Texas A&M University study, traffic congestion caused Americans to travel 5.5 billion hours more and to purchase an extra 2.9 billion gallons of fuel, which adds up to 56 billion unnecessary pounds of carbon dioxide released during that year.

Hard to grasp? Yeah that’s probably because it is. Also, just so you know, this adds up to an average of 38 hours per commuter per year, according to Adam Werback in The Atlantic. Personally, I spend about 480 hours in my car each year just commuting to and from work, so this figure sounds pretty awesome to me, as well as my 100,000 mile ’02 Ford Focus.

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This picture actually gives me anxiety

In America, we go on about how we have to save the environment, about how we should recycle, drive hybrid cars, and use reusable products, which is all good advice since Americans make up for five percent of the population yet use 20 percent of the world’s energy, according to the World Population Balance. However, also in America, train station stops aren’t necessarily accessible, nor are they necessarily fairly priced, or necesssarily reliable.

Conversely, we are also constantly told we need to put more time and effort towards our personal lives; that we need to spend more time with the kids, take the retriever for a walk, have dinner with the wife. According to the International Labour Organization, Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours per year than British workers, and 499 more hours per year than French workers. Somehow, I highly doubt that every single one of those Americans chooses to work an extra ten hours each week.

What great advice! Too bad it’s totally unrealistic, especially considering there are three unemployed people competing for every position, says Fox News, which makes for slim pickings for jobs.

To top the whole thing off, many of us come home angry, frustrated, and anxiety (and back pain) ridden – just from coming home from work. Exhibit A: Today at about 8:00 pm, a 60-or-so-year-old man in a small yellow convertible car actually followed me back to my apartment complex, parked behind my car, proceeded to walk up and then bang on my windows screaming “You know what you did,” and then trying to physically open my door. Luckily, I had locked the doors, feeling like the fact this guy had been behind me and then drove into my complex for six miles or so was kind of weird. Then after he left and I went inside, I looked out the window and saw that he had come back and circled around, most likely copying down my license plate so that he could find me and kill me. True story people. If I go missing, you know why.

I’m no genius (obviously). I’m not an engineer, I don’t know the makings of how to build a highway, or how to manage traffic issues, or how to deal with energy usage in this country or any other problems that I have mentioned here. But I do know one thing for sure – something isn’t quite right, and it’s not the residents of 740 Park who are seeing the effects. It’s you.

The Five Best Things About Nomad Life

There are tons of travel blogs and websites out there that will advise you on lots of really great information for people with disposable income – like the most luxurious wedding destinations, the most fashionable cities, the coolest airlines flying the skies. However, as you probably already know, Life Aboard The Traveling Circus isn’t about jet setting middle-aged bores who wear fur coats and drink cocktails in first class – it’s about dingy wanderers with used scarves and unclean hair hopping trains and sipping cold beer.

However, even though this kind of life is always new, always exciting, and always dirty, it sometimes can take a toll on our heavy and tired hearts. Once in a while, we yearn for a stable spot to sleep, a clean pair of drawers, and a toothbrush that hasn’t been sitting on the bottom of a backpack. Unfortunately, sometimes we get a little stuck. We’re already on the road and the option to lie in a bed that only we have laid in isn’t an option. So for those days, when even you, ever-exciting you, would kill to wake up in a room that isn’t shared, here are some reminders of why nomad life is freakin’ awesome.

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1. You will never have too much junk. Actually, you will never really have any junk. You may have started out with birthday cards, vacation shot glasses, and bobble heads, but let’s be serious, when you started living out of a backpack all that stuff slowly began trickling away. Without any junk, your life becomes more clear, unclogged by material items that don’t really have much meaning after all. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper to travel light when you’re not paying overweight baggage fees.

2. You have the coolest friends all over the globe. When you’re stuck in one place, you probably hang out with the same people most of the time – they’re probably good kids, they’re probably an okay time, and bowling and movies on Saturday night isn’t so bad. But when you travel, you meet people in a whole new ball game. The people you will come across have no fear, no ties, and no regrets. They’re down to work hard and play hard – everyday. They want to stay up all night, they want to talk to every person in the room, they want to jump in the ocean at midnight, and then they want to do it all again tomorrow… in another country.

3. You make yourself built-in parents. I don’t know about you, but at this point, my parents are kind of over me. They don’t want to make me lunch anymore, they don’t want to pay for my dinner, and they don’t really want to listen to my boy problems. However, parents across the globe never get tired of taking care of new scavengers. Once they have empty nests, they love having some lost kid to take care of for a few days… before they get sick of them, too, so in the meantime, it’s nice to have someone tell you about back in the day for a little while and bake you some cookies.

4. The little things in life stop mattering. When you don’t have much else going on, it’s easy to get irritated with the dumb chores you have to do – doing the laundry, going to the food store because you ran out of instant coffee, putting the dishes away after dinner three days ago. However, when you’re traveling, none of this stuff matters anymore. You can revert back to being a kid, when you ran rampart, jumped in mud puddles, and ate Pop-Tarts for dinner. There is something incredibly liberating about having a day free enough that you can literally just do whatever you want, whether that be cliff jumping, biking the ramparts, or drinking wine before five… Just because you feel like it.

5. You always go to bed tired. Living nine-to-five life can be rough in more ways than one. You’re tired all day long, but by the time you go to bed, you lie awake with your mind running, wondering what the hell you’re doing with your life and where it’s all heading. However, when you’re traveling, no matter if you’re sleeping in the Four Seasons or on some rando’s couch, every night, you go to bed dead tired, fulfilled, and surrounded by the mess of the day. No salary is worth more than that.